Olympic Champion Snowboarder Fights U.S. Travel Ban For Marijuana Use

Olympic Champion Snowboarder Fights U.S. Travel Ban For Marijuana Use

Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati was upset when he lost his Gold Medal at the 1998 Olympics after testing positive for marijuana use.  "I was devastated," he told Civilized in an interview last year. "I was coming into the Olympics...to win. And nothing else. Nothing. That was it."

Then Rebagliati got his medal back, and soon realized he could leverage the notoriety from the incident to build a business, and advocate for legalization and the normalization of marijuana in our culture.

"I feel privileged to have gone through the experience, and sort of led the way for the cannabis industry to rise above a stereotype and come from a position of excellence with the gold medal," he said. "Having cannabis be a part of a healthy lifestyle, for us, it's a perfect storm. It's a win-win for our brand."

Rebagliati is now fighting a new battle stemming from that incident nearly 20 years ago - a travel ban to the U.S. that he confronted for the first time four years ago when he was denied entry at the border. "They turned me around with my six-month-old baby and my wife and my dog," he told CTV News in a recent interview.

Cannabis is now legal in many states - both for recreational and medical use - but the federal government still considers it a banned substance. Immigration lawyer Len Sanders told CTV News there is a way to get around the ban - purchase a waiver for $585 U.S., which is good for a maximum of five years.

"[Rebagliati] has an excellent chance of getting a five-year waiver, but the problem is he'll have to renew it every five years again and again for the rest of his life, unless they change U.S. federal laws," Saunders said.

Rebagliati told CTV News he is now applying for the waiver so he can expand his business, Ross' Gold, south of the border. 

"[We want to] have our brand be part of the new cannabis movement, and for me to be allowed to move around the world freely and promote our company."

Saunders does say, though, that border guards are empowered to revoke the waiver if Rebagliati, or any other Canadian, admits they're a cannabis consumer - past or present.

h/t CTV News.

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